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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF2126 Danish Golden Age Painting

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Prof David Jackson

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

At least 20 credits of level 1 ARTF modules

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will examine the phenomenon of the Danish Golden Age with emphasis on its visual culture, and with particular reference to the work of its major artist Christen Købke, after whom the period took its alternative sobriquet – ‘The Age of Købke.’ An examination of art’s influential role and legacy will provide the fulcrum to a fuller understanding of this crucial era within European culture, and will seek to affect an integrated critical understanding of the experience of the Golden Age period that takes cognisance of the vital role played by the visual arts.


1. To provide a broad and comprehensible introduction to the study of Danish Golden Age art and culture.
2. To stimulate and develop an involvement in this specific period of art history, and in so doing give participants sufficient understanding to expand and further develop their own interests.
3. To assist students to develop critical and analytical skills in the study of art history.

The module is informed by the module leader’s research in this field, resulting from an Arts and Humanities Research Council award, and the related exhibition, Christen Købke: Danish Master of Light, at the National Gallery, London, and the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh (2010).

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will be able to engage in a critical and analytical manner in giving an assessment of the visual culture of the Danish Golden Age, cited within a cultural and historical context, particularly with regard to the following:

1. Identify the key concerns that informed the development and character of Danish Golden Age thought as a discrete concept.
2. Explain in critical and analytical modes how Danish Golden Age art was sited socially and politically within then contemporary critical debates.
3. Identify and comment on some of the key works of Danish Golden Age art.
4. Approach the visual arts of the Danish Golden Age with a context for analysing its content and import.


The ‘Danish Golden Age’ describes the diversity of intellectual, scientific and cultural achievements during the first half of the nineteenth century. Following the disastrous outcome of the Napoleonic Wars, when the nation was declared bankrupt, Denmark affected a remarkable cultural renaissance and demonstrated a creative and innovative energy unparalleled in its history, spawning such major talents as Hans Christian Andersen and Søren Kierkegaard. As the reconstruction of Copenhagen got underway, a resurgence of nationalist pride and a renewed patriotism marked the social and political scene. In the visual arts the Golden Age produced defining images of a peaceful and ordered society as the emerging Copenhagen bourgeoisie asserted a taste for portraits, urban scenes and landscapes that embraced and promoted their lifestyles. Artists turned their attentions to the people, traditions and customs of their own land, encapsulating the quintessence of society during this momentous period. The term ‘Golden Age’ was not coined until fifty years later, to describe the intensity of cultural achievement of the period, and in some respects it might be seen as a curiously insular phenomenon, fascinated with its own image. But its emphasis on national life provided a vital image of everyday life, of the personal experience of the Danish people and of the artists themselves.

Among the general areas to be covered in this module are:
- Introduction. The Cultural Background of the Golden Age
- Idealising a Dark Period. The Golden Age as Concept
- Eckersberg and the Academy. Patronage and the Kunstforeningen
- When in Rome. The Danish Experience Abroad
- Art History Criticism and Nationalism – Gruntvig and Høyen
- Golden Age Society and Thought – Art, Science, Reason and God
- Kierkegaard on Art
- Danish Society in Art – Genre Painting. Realism and Idealism
- Danish Society in Art – Portraiture
- A Small Nation. Danish Landscape and its Nationalistic Development
- Christen Købke – The Quiet Revolution
- Romantic Symbolism, the Sublime and the Ideal of Nationalism
- Johan Thomas Lundbye, P.C. Skovgaard and Dankvart Dreyer

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study time will be dedicated to the module readings, engagement with additional art historical resources, essay preparation, and writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Attendance monitoring and seminar discussions will ensure that students follow the module and keep up with readings. Discussions relating to assessment ensure that essay plans and preparations are appropriate and realistic; formative feedback will be given to students’ essay plans. This will cover key aspects of essay planning and writing (e.g. archive, bibliography, core questions, use of original sources), ensuring good support ahead of the essay submission date.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1x 3,000 word essay60.00
Essay1 x 1,500 word essay40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 16:04:48


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